Monday, April 26, 2010

Drill Post #9: I "Heart" Foul Tactics

So, as we've mentioned, that list of illegal/foul tactics that are part of sport combat MMA contests are what are known as (and should be sung to) "My Favorite Things." And again, before the MMA crowd gets their panties all up in a bunch, this is not to deny any of the many valid methods of that crowd, but it does go back to our view of costs versus benefits (how labor intensive is it to functionalize a tactic/technique versus another that will give you as good a result, our primary goal being the ending of someone's attack).

When taking someone through a progression of training, I don't like to wait too long before dealing with some standing vernacular grappling. By that I mean the "tent hug" mutual bear hug that guys often get into when the punching ranges collapse into a chest-to-chest scenario. This happens easily when one or both of the people fighting don't manage to control their effective punching range because they are both trying to agress. (We're assuming in this case that neither party is deliberately trying to crash/shoot in to grapple). It just takes an instant of inattention for this to happen.

Before I work with this material, I always like to ask a student what his instincts are when the bear hug-ish situation occurs, and by and large, when I bear-hug them (under their arms at first) they bear-hug back. The central point being that they respond with a defensive, not particularly effective thing. I then ask what the closest thing is that they can effectively attack. They may mention some decent possibilities, but not they ones I want to ingrain first. That's when I point out that the hand on the same side of my head (i.e. their right hand if my head is to the right of their head) is free to thumb an eye or attack the windpipe. These are the primary targets most easily available.

To drill this into instinct, the trainer throws a flow of very controlled light punches at the trainee who is up against a wall and not allowed to simply evade. On occasion, the trainer will start to "get messy" as in drill post #8, and although knees and close hand counter-strikes are good to do, the trainer will go for the under arm bear-hug and ideally the trainee will have his hand on the trainer's throat or thumb on the eye brow (the training target for thumbing the eye) before the bear hug is on. At that point the trainer gets pushed back into elbowing/striking range, so the trainee executes available variations. Do I need to say that both partners have to really control the contact? Light to no contact is the name of the game here. The Thais have drills they lump under the category of "Play/timing" and that's what we're after here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Drill Post #8: Finger Wrench Drill

Of all the joint-manipulations/locks possible, the one that would be at the top of my Most Useable list would be a finger wrench. Going back to our observations regarding human combative instincts, it's clear that people reach out with their arms both in offense and defense, and often hands are open at that point. If you have "crashed the line," that is you are now in past the fighting measure and touching your opponent, you may have a finger available to grab and manipulate (a nice way to say "break or wrench"). As a general rule it will be when the inside of your arm is in contact with their limb and it is a quick slide down to get their finger before they know what's happening. For example, when executing a palm hook, if the opponent tries to obstruct with either a cultivated block or an instinctive defensive motion, a slide down the point of contact to the finger grab is viable. Other scenarios are equally good, such as a jackass pointing his finger at you in confrontation. It's not easy to accurately describe the way I like to train this, but give this a try; the trainer is grabbing/pushing the trainee in a messy way, and the trainee/defender, while looking for the most direct counter-attacks will grab the finger when that opportunity is presented (which the trainer insures will happen by sometimes actually in the mess of things putting his finger in the trainees palm). It's really interesting how many times, when doing this training at first, that I can say "freeze, now tell me what the closest thing is you can attack?" to a student, and they will point out three or four things they could do before I point out that my finger is actually in their hand.

As for the proper way to bend a finger, do not just grab the finger and point it back away from you, but (if, say, your right hand has grabbed his left index finger) use the little finger of your grabbing hand as a fulcrum to focus into the back of his knuckle as the index finger end of your fist bends it back towards him as you take the whole thing down to the ground while paying attention to move back and guard that he doesn't smack you with his other hand before the "point of no return."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Drill Post #7: Flow Training Between Defense and Offense

First, let's combine the drills from posts #2 and #4, so that the trainer is moving the trainee around and having him look for the close evasion and reposte, continuous evasion and the stop-hit, and then sometimes as the trainee is striking back (just as his stop-hit is landing, for example), the trainer, WITHOUT DEFENDING, keeps a continuous series of strikes going so that the defender/trainee has to go into a defensive flow like in post #4 for four or five strikes before the trainer relieves the pressure enough so that that he can go back to the "Frankenstein" scenario. It's fine, and of course recommended, that during the trainee's defense he is "time-hitting," that is striking back simultaneously with his defense. I have also referred to time-hitting as "sectoring" on the DVD of that name, and while I won't be going into an in-depth exposition here, I will say that if you are doing the cover as I describe in drill post #4, your free hand can either monitor the trainer's non-striking hand if it is up, or you can put it can in the trainer's eyes or throat (touch the chest or throat for training targets). Remember that when attacking eyes or throat, you don't need full-body power mechanics to make it count, so you don't have to disrupt your defensive structure. In the next drill post, we'll add some stop-gap foul tactics (AKA "Some of My Favorite Things") into the drill.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Drill Post #6: Fine Tuning the Kick Range Reposte

In Drill Post #5, the initial feed by the trainer involved a front kick/jab kick to the trainee's midsection with various degrees of depth of the trainer's advance, and the initial response of the trainee was to see how small a distance he could evade the kick by without parrying. Let's now add two possibilities to this. If, as is very common, the kicker drops his hands as he kicks and steps down, the defender (if he has controlled his distance properly) jabs or crosses, timing it to land just as the attacker's foot is landing. If the trainer keeps his hands up as he kicks and plants forward, the defender, after the evasion, leans back to execute a stationary low side/stop-kick. ("Stationary" simply means to lean the weight back on to the rear leg to kick with the lead so that there is no advance which would crowd your kick). Note that the jab or cross is in essence a stop-hit, even though it is after an attack, because it is intercepting the continued attack. As always, the goal of the defender is to make smooth timely responses. The trainer should not have to hang out while the trainee is figuring out what to do. As usual start at a mellow pace and work up.